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Mindscape was an American-French video game developer and publisher. The company was founded by Roger Buoy in 1983 in the United States and became based in France through several mergers in acquisitions. Following poor performance of its products, Mindscape exited the video game industry in August 2011. Notable titles released by Mindscape include Déjà Vu, Balance of Power, Sub Mission: A Matter of Life and Death, and Lego Island.

IndustryVideo game industry
FoundedOctober 1983; 35 years ago (1983-10) in Northbrook, Illinois, U.S.
FounderRoger Buoy
DefunctAugust 10, 2011 (2011-08-10)


Mindscape was founded in October 1983 as a wholly owned subsidiary of holding company SFN Companies.[1][2] Mindscape's founder, Australian entrepreneur Roger Buoy, had previously been a computer analyst for Rolls-Royce Limited and later worked for the software division of Scholastic Inc., before being hired by SFN in October 1983 to set up Mindscape.[3][2] For Mindscape, Buoy acted as president and chief executive officer (CEO).[2] Mindscape released its first product in April 1984.[2] Early games published by the company include Déjà Vu, Balance of Power, and Sub Mission: A Matter of Life and Death.[3][4][5] In its early years, Mindscape lost about US$6 million annually.[6]

In July 1986, Mindscape acquired the assets of Scarborough Systems, a software company from Tarrytown, New York.[7] Scarborough Systems continued its operations through Lifeboat Assoc., a subsidiary that was not acquired by Mindscape.[8] In October, SFN announced that it would be selling or closing large parts of its business, including plans to liquidate Mindscape.[9] On December 31, Mindscape also acquired the assets of Roslyn, New York-based company Learning Well.[7] Because Mindscape was not liquidated by the end of 1986, it was assigned to SFN Partners L.P., a limited partnership company.[7] A new corporation set up by Buoy and SFN's former president and chairman, John Purcell, subsequently acquired Mindscape from SFN Partners on January 16, 1987, for $3 million.[7][10] Buoy retained his positions in the company, while Purcell became its chairman.[7] At this point, Mindscape had 74 employees.[7]

With sales of $12 million, Mindscape had become profitable for the first time in the fouth quarter of 1986, and publishing black numbers by 1987.[7][10] In March 1987, Mindscape acquired the software division of Holt, Rinehart and Winston formerly known as CBS Interactive Learning, with all operations moved to Mindscape's Northbrook, Illinois, headquarters.[1] By June 1988, the filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to prepare an initial public offering and become a public company.[10] The move aimed at raising $9.6 million through sale of stock to reduce its bank loan debts of $9.8 million.[10] The first stock was issued in July.[11] Bob Ingersoll and Dennis O'Malley were appointed vice-president (VP) of marketing and VP of sales, respectively, in May 14, 1987.[12] In November, Mindscape signed a lease of 21,000 square feet (2,000 m2) of office space in Wheeling, Illinois, for $236,000.[13] Robert A. Drell, formerly of Dresher Inc., became VP of finance and chief financial officer in October 1988.[14]

In December 1989, video game company The Software Toolworks reached an agreement to acquire Mindscape, exchanging every Mindscape share for 0.4375 of a share in newly issued Toolworks common stock.[15] The deal was completed on March 13, 1990, and valued at $21.2 million.[16][17] Mindscape had been one of the approximately 40 companies licensed to develop for Nintendo video game platforms, which was a major reason for the acquisition.[16][17][18] The two companies merged, and Buoy joined Les Crane on Toolworks' company board.[19] Following the acquisiton, Mindscape became Toolwork's division working exclusively on games for Nintendo platforms, which sharply increased Toolwork's earnings.[16][17][20] Subsequently, in April 1994, Pearson plc acquired Toolworks for $462 million, with the deal closing on May 12, 1994.[21][22]

Pearson was criticized for overpaying in the acquisition, and the acquired company lost $69 million in its early years under Pearson.[23][24] By November that year, Toolworks had assumed the Mindscape identity.[25] The same year, Mindscape acquired video game developer Strategic Simulations.[26] In September 1995, it acquired Micrologic Software from Emeryville, California, to undisclosed terms.[27] After In January 1996, John F. Moore became CEO after leaving the same position at Western Publishing.[28] In 1997, Mindscape acquired software company Multimedia Design.[29] In November, it laid off 12 developed staff as a cost reduction measure.[30]

In its final year under Pearson, 1997, Mindscape become profitable again, generating $2.7 million.[31] After this, Pearson proceeded to sell Mindscape to The Learning Company (TLC) in March 1998 for $150 million in cash and stock.[32] A waiting period was temporarily imposed by the Federal Trade Commission and subsequently terminated the same month.[33] TLC expected that its stocks would rise $0.05 per share as a result of the acquisition, while Pearson lost around $347 million.[31][34] Later that year, when TLC integrated its Broderbund division, Mindscape took over Broderbund's productivity, reference and entertainment brands.[35] TLC was acquired by Gores Technology Group in 2000 and its game brands were reformed under a new entitiy, Game Studios, in January 2001.[36] The same year, former TLC-Edusoft executive Jean-Pierre Nordman bought out Mindscape and became its manager.[3] Through this move, Mindscape became based in Boulogne-Billancourt, a suburb of Paris, France.[37]

By December 2009, Thierry Bensoussan had become the managing director for Mindscape.[38] The company opened a intnernal development studio, Punchers Impact, in Paris to develop multi-platform digital download games.[38] The studio's managers, Guillaume Descamps and Jérôme Amouyal, left the studio less than a year later, in September 2010, to found a new studio, Birdies Road.[39] Punchers Impact developed two games—Crasher, a racing game, and U-Sing, a music game. U-Sing performed well at retail, but the cost of music licenses for the game had a severe impact on its revenue, while Crasher underperformed.[40][41] As a result, Mindscape announced on August 10, 2011 that it had closed Punchers Impact and laid off its 40 employees, while itself would effectively exit the video game industry.[42] Some regional subsidiaries, such as Mindscape Asia-Pacific in Sydney, Australia, continued operating in the video game business as entities independent from Mindscape.[43]

Software publishedEdit


  1. ^ a b Winter, Christine (March 13, 1987). "MINDSCAPE TO BUY SOFTWARE GROUP". Chicago Tribune.
  2. ^ a b c d Winter, Christine (December 2, 1985). "MINDSCAPE". Chicago Tribune.
  3. ^ a b c Cifaldi, Frank (August 10, 2011). "Report: Mindscape Leaves Video Game Industry After Nearly 30 Years". Gamasutra.
  4. ^ Aaron, David (December 28, 1985). "PLAYING WITH APOCALYPSE". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Bertoli, Ben (October 10, 2016). "The self-destructing game of 1986". Polygon.
  6. ^ Storch, Charles (January 31, 1985). "N COS. SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE LEVERAGED BUYOUT". Chicago Tribune.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Winter, Christine (January 19, 1987). "NORTHBROOK SOFTWARE COMPANY BOUGHT BY NEW CORPORATION". Chicago Tribune.
  8. ^ "MINDSCAPE BUYS SCARBOROUGH". Chicago Tribune. July 28, 1986.
  9. ^ Storch, Charles (October 15, 1986). "SFN SELLING TEXTBOOK FIRMS". Chicago Tribune.
  10. ^ a b c d Winter, Christine (June 7, 1988). "$9.6 MILLION STOCK SALE PLANNED BY MINDSCAPE". Chicago Tribune.
  11. ^ Rudd, David C. (December 6, 1986). "TOOLWORKS TO BUY MINDSCAPE". Chicago Tribune.
  12. ^ Lazarus, George (May 14, 1987). "MORE BRITONS ON MADISON AVE". Chicago Tribune.
  13. ^ "ZURICH-AMERICAN ADDS TO HQ". Chicago Tribune. November 22, 1987.
  14. ^ "DRESHER OFFICER NAMED VP AT MINDSCAPE". Chicago Tribune. October 27, 1988.
  15. ^ "COMPANY BRIEFS". The New York Times. December 6, 1989.
  16. ^ a b c Federal Securities Law Reporter: Federal Regulation of Securities : Laws, Regulations, Forms, Rulings and Decisions Currently Supplemented and Indexed. Commerce Clearing House. p. 351.
  17. ^ a b c Merger Yearbook: Domestic. Securities Data Company. 1991. p. 327.
  18. ^ Cuff, Daniel F. (April 13, 1990). "BUSINESS PEOPLE; New President Named At Software Toolworks". The New York Times.
  19. ^ "Software Toolworks Acquires Mindscape". Computer Gaming World. No. 67. January 1990. p. 64.
  20. ^ Gould, Carole (July 1, 1990). "Mutual Funds; When Small Is Beautiful". The New York Times.
  21. ^ Lohr, Steve (April 1, 1994). "Pearson Enters Multimedia Software Arena". The New York Times.
  22. ^ Bloomberg News (May 13, 1994). "Pearson Completes Deal". The New York Times.
  23. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine; Myerson, Allen R. (May 18, 1998). "SIMON & SCHUSTER IN SALE TO BRITISH". The New York Times.
  24. ^ "INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS;Pearson Says Mindscape Will Have Loss in 1996". The New York Times. May 4, 1996.
  25. ^ "TOP OF MIND". Billboard. Vol. 106 no. 46. Nielsen Business Media. November 12, 1984. p. 90.
  26. ^ Nutt, Christian (December 16, 2013). "Strategic Simulations, Inc. founder donates company collection to ICHEG". Gamasutra.
  27. ^ "COMPANY BRIEFS". The New York Times. September 8, 1995.
  28. ^ "Western Publishing CEO leaves: John F. Moore,..." Chicago Tribune. January 26, 1996.
  29. ^ Tannenbaum, Fred (August 20, 2007). "Tech firm is taking new product to market for free". The Business Journals.
  30. ^ "Layoffs Hit Mindscape". GamePro. No. 101. IDG. February 1997. pp. 26–27.
  31. ^ a b Buerkle, Tom (March 7, 1998). "Pearson Sells Mindscape, Taking Big Loss". The New York Times.
  32. ^ Dow Jones (March 7, 1998). "COMPANY NEWS; LEARNING COMPANY SETS DEAL FOR MINDSCAPE". The New York Times.
  33. ^ "The Learning Co. moves forward with Mindscape buy". The Business Journals. March 25, 1998.
  34. ^ "Pearson loses Mindscape". CNNMoney. March 6, 1998.
  35. ^ "Learning Co. cuts 500 jobs". CNNMoney. September 11, 1998.
  36. ^ Schofield, Jack (January 18, 2001). "Games watch". The Guardian.
  37. ^ MCV Staff (February 12, 2010). "Mindscape returns to UK". MCV.
  38. ^ a b Martin, Matt (December 1, 2009). "Mindscape opens new digital studio Punchers Impact".
  39. ^ Pearson, Dan (September 17, 2010). "Punchers Impact bosses found new studio".
  40. ^ Weber, Rachel (August 11, 2011). "Publisher Mindscape exits industry, 40 jobs lost".
  41. ^ Nunneley, Stephany (August 10, 2011). "Publisher Mindscape moving out of game sector, 40 jobs reported lost". VG247.
  42. ^ MCV Staff (August 10, 2011). "40 jobs gone as Mindscape quits games". MCV.
  43. ^ MCV Staff (August 12, 2011). "Mindscape Asia-Pacific unaffected by French withdrawal from games". MCV.
  44. ^ Warwick, Paul; Wilson, Elaine; Winterbottom, Mark (August 1, 2006). Teaching And Learning Primary Science With Ict. McGraw-Hill Education. p. 97. ISBN 9780335218943.
  45. ^ Kee, Jay (March 1994). "Darth Vader vs. The Terminator". Computer Gaming World. No. 116. pp. 90–94.
  46. ^ "CyberSpeed". Next Generation. No. 18. Imagine Media. June 1996. p. 122.